EUGENE E. MILLER during the last thirty-nine years has been an important contribution to the development of Lane County. His activities have been primarily as a ranchman and farmer, though he has always assisted to the extent of his ability in the matter of community improvements, especially those connected with the establishment of better schools and the keeping up of roads and other things that add to the sum total of conveniences and prosperity.
His farming estate is in Spring Creek Township, his ranch lying along Hackberry Creek. He was one of the first settlers in the county. Mr. Miller arrived and filed on his claim March 3, 1879. His homestead was the northeast quarter of section 31, township 20, range 27. In that community he has centered his activities ever since.
Eugene E. Miller was born in Dane County, Wisconsin, December 15, 1857. His grandfather, Amos Miller, who was born at Delaware Gap, Pennsylvania, was of German stock. He was a Pennsylvania farmer and was twice married, first to Miss Schaaf and second to Miss Weaver. Each wife brought him six children. Three of the sons, Amos, Lewis and Thomas were Union soldiers, Amos losing his life in that struggle. Samuel Miller, father of Eugene, was the oldest of his father's second set of children. He was born at Delaware Gap, near Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania, and about 1840 went out to Wisconsin, locating in Dane County. He developed a farm on Wheeler Prairie, remaining there until 1886, when he came to Kansas and settled near Galva in McPherson County, finishing his career as a farmer and stockman. He died at the age of seventy-four, and his widow died on the old homestead in McPherson County February 23, 1918. Samuel Miller never belonged to a church but his wife was a Methodist and in politics he was a republican. His widow, whose maiden name was Hannah Murphy, is a daughter of Abram Murphy, who came from Pennsylvania, and was an early settler in Wisconsin. Samuel Miller and wife had the following children: Helen, wife of Herman Collins, of Stoughton, Wisconsin; George, of Cimarron, Kansas; Eugene E.; Sidney, who died in McPherson County; Clara, who died as Mrs. Frank Wiles, in McPherson County; Frank, who died in the same county; Fred, who lives in Galena, McPherson County.
As a boy in Wisconsin Eugene E. Miller had the environment of the rural districts of Dane County, Wisconsin, and acquired a better than ordinary education. He completed his schooling in Albion Academy. After leaving home he went out to Iowa, took part in a harvest season there, and then proceeded to Kansas. Accompanying him to this state was a boy with whom he had grown up in Wisconsin, W. H. Butts. They drove across the country to Kansas, Mr. Miller bringing with him a team, which was his start so far as property was concerned. He and his companion remained together three or four years. His dugout was constructed on the banks of Huckberry Creek, and it was a very small affair, 8 by 10 feet, with willow and sod roof. The door was the only lumber that entered into its construction.
A couple of years after arriving in Lane County Mr. Miller took a bunch of sheep on the shares, and in that way soon acquired a herd of his own. He says that the sheep industry was one of his most profitable ventures in the state. This was true regardless of the fact that wool often sold as low as 15 cents a pound, though his clip brought him in 1918 as high as 63 cents a pound. He handles cattle, using the Hereford grade, and has shipped a number of car loads of them, and latterly has been giving emphasis rather to horse raising. He breeds the Percheron strain. Mr. Miller suffered a heavy loss in 1915, when the destructive conflagration which started near Garden City and swept the country for seventy-five miles to the northeast destroyed his ranch houses, sheep sheds and half his flock of sheep.
Besides proving up his homestead Mr. Miller took a timber claim and a pre-emption. He stocked his timber claim with real trees, in accordance with the requirements of the United States laws. Out of the profits of his various enterprises he accumulated nine quarter sections of land, but of this he now owns only a full section. During a number of years while his own children were growing up under his roof he was handicapped for lack of convenient school facilities. His children had to go back and forth four miles to the nearest school. He finally moved to a home in Dighton in order that they might make better use of school advantages. His ranch is in district No. 31. In a public way Mr. Miller served as trustee of Spring Creek Township one term, and for one term was a county commissioner, his fellow commissioners being Tingley and Gault. Their administration covered only the routine transactions of the county affairs. Mr. Miller cast his first vote in Lane County, and had to ride eight miles to the voting place on Van Deren's farm. He was reared under republican influence, casting his early votes for the success of that party, but in 1912 and again in 1916 voted for Mr. Wilson.
In Lane County, May 14, 1883, after he had become comfortably situated on his homestead, he married Miss Sadie Clark, daughter of William and Eliza Clark. Her father was widely known as "Uncle Billy" Clark, was a real pioneer of Lane County, and died at his homestead in Spring Creek Township, on Darr Creek, having survived his wife several years. Mr. Clark was born in Dedham, Massachusetts, was reared in Maine, and was a Union soldier, having enlisted from Iowa. William Clark and wife had the following children: Mary, who married Jesse Gwynn, and resides in Hennessy, Oklahoma; Mrs. Ella McGinnis, who died in Ness County, Kansas, in March, 1917; Mrs. Miller, who was born in Iowa January 22, 1864; and Lydia, who married Milton F. Ballard, of Dighton.
The children of Mr. and Mrs. Miller are Lyman, Guy, Edith and Clark. Lyman, who completed his education in the Kansas Agricultural College at Manhattan, is a successful rancher on Hackberry Creek, and married Esther Clayton. Guy, who is also on the Hackberry ranch, had the advantages of higher training in the State Agricultural College, and by his marriage to Lola Chitty, who is now deceased, has three children, Edgar, Ethel and Claude. Edith, who is Mrs. H. J. Clayton, of Dighton, is noted throughout this district of Kansas as one of the best rifle shots and has proved her prowess in competition with men. The son Clark is a pupil in the high school at Dighton.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project